Media Circus: Softening The Target

Standing in line at a Ralph’s grocery store here in So-Cal not too long ago, I refused to absorb ad impressions and other information from a small TV set babbling at me from in front of the register.

Well, I tried, anyway. These unwelcome broadcasts cut into the important business of surreptitiously perusing the prurient rants of the scandal sheets and the near-bare bosoms exploding off the covers of the women’s and fitness mags, and resisting the overwhelming desire to rip through Cosmopolitan to find out what "secret spot" will "drive him wild," for surely I’m missing something here on a monthly basis.

My token rejection of this latest attempt to register more impressions in a heretofore broadcast-media-free zone is just that — token. For even if the smart part of my brain is attempting to block it all out, dumb parts are disobeying my orders and sucking up the info to store for later use. Like a sensitive shellfish impacted by only one part per billion of an environmental toxin, my brain is susceptible to sway from even the smallest exposure, and resistance is futile.

Advertisers, of course, know this; they’ve known it for years. But are they truly exploiting it to its fullest potential? Where else are consumers vulnerable? What venues remain unexplored?

One untapped army is the Girls Scouts. Some party poopers may scruple over the use of these fresh-faced ingénues as advertising vehicles, but hey, they’re already out there peddling death in a box. Have you seen the fat content of a Samoa? Quibble if you will, but the Scouts could use the extra cash, and it’s a valuable lesson in how the world really works.

In my neck of the woods, I advocate having all lifeguards with the program. (Bikini: left cup "Just"; right cup "Do"; bikini bottom "It.") In the frozen north, those guys who plow the driveway surely have time to snow-sculpt a corporate icon or two in an unsuspecting homeowner’s yard, while summertime finds all those neighborhood kids who mow lawns getting their own special training. What spoilsport would withhold the kudos from an enterprising lad capable of carving an Acura logo or a Citibank mortgage rate into the ficus? Not I!

Some wring their hands over the decline in effectiveness of traditional advertising, but these are just lazy crybabies who don’t want to think outside the box. Those not willing to move past traditional and even guerrilla advertising into a new mode probably best compared to terrorism are missing the boat — not to mention the shuttle bus to the marina.

As for the TV sets at Ralph’s, they still don’t compete with the "secret G-spot" headlines and bra-bursting cover models, but I’ve got to admire the sheer brazenness of the attempt. They train the mark that nothing is indeed sacred, and condition him to accept ever-escalating forms of intrusion.

They laugh now, but in five years they’ll line up to buy space on my video projection showerhead because of the good work being done now in checkout.

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